WestVac BioPharma Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "WestVac BioPharma") has a mature insect cell expression platform, novel adjuvant platform, bacterial vaccine platform, tumor vaccine platform and immunotherapy platform, with more than 20 pipelines including COVID-19 vaccine, multivalent influenza vaccine, herpes virus vaccine, tumor immunity preparations.
After the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, with the strong support of governments at all levels, Sichuan University West China Medical Center and WestVac BioPharma took the initiative in the scientific and technological endeavor against COVID-19, and made breakthroughs through more than one year's efforts. Affiliated to Sichuan University, West China Medical Center is the largest national medical center in western China. Its State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy is the only laboratory of its kind with the mandate of "Treating Critical Human Disease with Biotechnology". There are over 150 experts with multi-disciplinary background, including 13 Chang Jiang Scholars/Young Chang Jiang Scholars and 18 winners of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars.
Under the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of The State Council, Sichuan University in partnership with WestVac BioPharma undertook the research and development of Recombinant COVID-19 Vaccine (Sf9 cells), a national key scientific research project led by Professor WEI Yuquan, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Director of the State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chairman of WestVac BioPharma and his team of scientists. The technology adopted is listed as one of the five state-funded COVID-19 vaccine development technology routes.
On July 29, 2020, WestVac Biopharma R&D team published the first paper on COVID-19 vaccine research in Nature
. An innovative recombinant protein technology route was adopted to develop China's first recombinant COVID-19 vaccine expressed in insect cells—Coviccine. It is the second generation recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine, which introduces SARS-CoV-2 genes into insect cells to generate the S protein of SARS-CoV-2, and induce human body to produce antibodies to block viral infection. Mass production of the vaccine has been achieved. The Phase I and II clinical trials of Coviccine have been completed in June 2021. Phase III clinical trials have been rolled out globally in multiple countries, with nearly 40,000 subjects enrolled and vaccinated. The clinical trials in Japan for marketing purpose have been concluded, which is the first Chinese COVID-19 vaccine that entered clinical trials in a developed country. Study results show that the vaccine has good safety and immunogenicity, with protection against Omicron subvariants of COVID-19 as high as 70.95%. It is one of the most effective vaccines against symptomatic Omicron subvariants globally so far, fully demonstrating the advantages and characteristics of the recombinant protein vaccine technology route.
WestVac Biopharma is also accelerating the development of the recombinant COVID-19 vaccine (Sf9 cells) in response to the continuous emergence of variant strains such as Delta and Omicron. The subunit vaccine antigen is precisely designed based on the structure, which can self-assemble into stable protein particles. Mass production of the vaccine uses internationally advanced insect cell production technology and is combined with oil-in-water emulsion adjuvant (MF59-like adjuvant) that can induce a stronger immune response. The vaccine can induce the production of high titers of neutralizing antibodies upon immunizing animals such as mice or monkeys. The neutralizing antibodies against Omicron variant strain can reach a level of ten thousand (meaning that the blood is diluted 10,000 times and still has the ability to block the virus from infecting cells). It was previously discovered that the vaccine also induces a level of ten thousand neutralizing antibodies that completely inhibit Gamma, Beta and Delta variant strains of Euvirus, indicating that the vaccine is a universal COVID-19 vaccine against multiple variant strains. It is also one of the first COVID-19 vaccine announced internationally that has high titers of neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant strain. The dossier for the vaccine has been submitted to the National Medical Products Administration in August, 2021 in rolling submission, and the clinical trials are expected to start officially in the middle of 2022.
In order to improve the safety and accessibility of the vaccine, WestVac Biopharma has also developed a nasal spray vaccine against COVID-19 variants, improving efficacy by inducing nasal mucosal immunity. On the basis of extensive research, the nasal spray dosage form was selected to induce strong immune response. Two immunizations will enable rabbits to produce more than one hundred thousand binding antibodies together with substantial quantity of neutralizing antibodies. Additionally, the company is also in the process of developing novel oral preparation against COVID-19
and mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, both of which have shown good in vivo safety and activity.